Ideas to products (Shark Tank(-ish) @ Austin)

Hey there,

I am trying to put together an event at NANOG Austin (will submit pc when CFP is open). So many of us had very interesting ideas over the years. Some of these ideas became products or companies making life easy for engineers and operators. Could there be other ideas waiting to be supported? Perhaps. I am sure you all watched shark tank! In simplest words i am trying to organize an event very similar to Shark Tank!( we will call it some other name tho)

There will be some known investors on the stage and you will 5 mins for your pitch and 10 mins to answer questions, and hopefully make a deal.

I will help those who want to pitch their idea with their p&l , presentation and other things as they needed.

Please contact me if you have any questions offlist and want to pitch your idea. We need a single paragraph to get you started.


Great point :wink: thanks Tom

As someone who had dealt with non-profit management many times and served on several non-profit entity boards of varying sorts, I don’t see any issue here at all with simply hosting such an event. As long as NANOG handles the procedes from the event properly, there should be no issue. In fact, there are 501©3 organizations which exist with a primary goal very similar to this: connecting investors with potential investments. Check out Code2040, the Techstars Foundation, and Change Catalyst, among others.

I’d like to hear why you feel this sort of event may cause an issue or jeopardize NANOG’s tax status. Can you be a bit more clear about why you are concerned about this? Perhaps there’s something I’m overlooking.

As far as intellectual property goes, it would of course be up to the presenter how much they would want to share publicly. Not all intellectual property is a “trade secret”, plenty is covered by copyrights and patents and can generally be shared with an audience without granting said audience unlimited rights to that intellectual property. For example, just because you attend a concert with a particularly performer does not mean you then have rights to illegally download that performer’s mp3s. Of course anyone who does treat their work product as a trade secret would not share such work product with any audience. If a presenter did wish to share additional information with the “shark”/investor participants above and beyond what is shown to the general audience, they could establish non-disclosure agreements with the interested parties. NDA’s between potential investors and recipients of investments are extremely common. This would of course be between the presenter and their attorney to determine the appropriate course of action and to draw up any relevant documents. Any time anyone is considering accepting an investment in their work product, I would very highly recommend that they engage an attorney whom they trust in order to vet any agreements and ensure that they fully understand all ramifications thereof.

Good luck folks!

Referencing our published presentation guidelines , ( emphasis mine ) :

While it is not our goal to censor presentation content, we do ask that speakers refrain from disclosing proprietary information, or using presentations as a platform to promote their place of employment. As such, we ask that you adhere to our presentation guidelines. NANOG allows logos to be used in the following ways:

As described, I think it would be challenging to satisfy the bolded. By any analysis, an investor pitch session would be both of these. Generally speaking, aside from the time allotted at the start of the program for our meeting sponsor, we try to keep the business out of the room.

That being said, there might be a way to modify this idea to better align with the content goals we strive to achieve. The CFP is ( spoiler alert ) going out today, and the PC would be glad to have the submission and work with you to see if a fit could be found.


The challenge would be the function of the organization as reported to the IRS versus what the organization actually does. If your exemption status is based on Activity A , and you started to do Completely Unrelated Activity B without proper notification and process with the IRS, you can lose that 501©3 status. This happened to an organization I was involved with many years ago.

For your example, a 501©3 organization created for the objective is connecting investors to businesses is perfectly fine. If that organization later started funding scholarships for underprivileged children without properly involving the IRS, they could jeopardize that exempt status.

The Program Committee would absolutely work with the Board to get a proper opinion if content was being considered for acceptance that could run us afoul of those rules.